Skip to main content

A 'fighter' for the cause of environment, preservation of water bodies in Hyderabad

By Sandeep Pandey, Venkatesh Narayanan, Kushagra Kumar*

Dr Lubna Sarwath is a fighter. In a survey conducted by the leading South Indian daily Deccan Chronicle the residents of Hyderabad have highlighted conservation of environment as a priority issue on which they would like their Mayor to focus on and Lubna has dedicated her life to the cause of environment, specifically preservation of water bodies, and that is why she has emerged as the most suitable choice for the Mayor of the city in this survey.
She is, however, the lone candidate representing her Socialist Party (India) for the elections to the posts of corporators in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. For this reason there is also a demand from the people for direct election to the post of Mayor. The GHMC elections have now become very high profile with the entry of Prime Minister, Home Minister and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh as campaigners.
Lubna Sarwath has raised the issue of names of voters appearing multiple times in voter rolls just on the eve of elections and filed a petition in Telangana High Court against the State Election Commission among others pleading for postponement of elections in her ward No 72, Asifnagar, until the voters list is purged. She has also demanded, in the interest of democracy, to make the voters list available to the general public 30 days before the issue of notification for any election.
When she requested for electoral rolls as a candidate it was made available to her on November 27, 2020, four days before polling, at a cost of Rs 3,600 which she was asked to pay in cash. The electoral rolls to all recognized parties are made available free of cost. She has protested against this anomaly and also against cash payment when all other payments are now being made electronically.
In her random survey of electoral rolls for five polling stations out of a total of 61 falling in her ward, Lubna found that 129 names are duplicated, two triplicated and two quadrulplicated. Given that in ward elections sometimes the margin of victory may be just a few hundred votes, this discrepancy is serious.
It is quite bizarre that when she lodged a complaint with the Telangana State Election Commission she was advised to prepare the list of fraudulent voters and hand them over to the on duty polling officers on the day of polling through her agents. The abdication of responsibility by Election Commission, which can be considered its primary duty, to provide defect free voter rolls, raises doubt on the non-partisan nature of its functioning.
She contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and casted her vote in 2016 GHMC elections. When she wanted to contest the 2018 Telangana Assembly elections she found her name missing from voter rolls. She refused to fill the form to add her name to the electoral roll because she didn’t want to state the untruth that her name was to be added anew. She argued that her name was fraudulently removed and must be restored by election officials rather than she be required to fill a form for new addition to the rolls. She won and her name was restored.
Lubna Sarwath holds a PhD from Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia, and has attended a women leadership course at Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore. She has been working in public domain on environmental, political, educational, health and governance issues and will continue to work irrespective of the results of the elections. She combines integrity with courage and passion and professes universal value of harmony among human beings and with nature.
Hyderabadis deserve a governance and development that is corruption free, pollution free, fully-transparent, all time responsive and not avoid people's questions
Lubna Sarwath has filed many cases in National Green Tribunal and other courts for preservation of water bodies not just in Hyderabad but also in Nellore, Khammam and Karimnagar districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Prominent among these are cases for protection of Hussain Sagar lake, drinking water lakes Usman Sagar and Himayat Sagar. In Karimnagar she took up the issue of vanishing water inside a temple where people take holy dip because the pond which supplied water located outside the temple was being encroached upon for promotion of tourism.
No ward committee meetings have been held for the past five years -- sabotaging the entire spirit of the decentralisation of power through Urban Local Bodies as mandated by the 74th Constitutional amendment. Lubna wants all decisions related to development works be taken in ward meetings in a transparent manner. Lubna is spearheading a change to bring to the forefront the real issues of the people, and addressing them through concrete legislative and budgetary initiatives.
She is the founder of a local grassroots organisation determined to make the Right to Education and adult literacy a reality for even the most marginalized residents of the ward. She continuously interacts with authorities to keep students in school and engaged -- and this initiative has spread by word of mouth.
The challenges she has faced in her activism are multifarious. The stark inequalities and power imbalances found among the residents of the ward makes change difficult. There are upper and middle class owned swanky apartments adjoining sprawling slums with little or no sanitation facilities. The development process of the government has completely disowned the poorer residents, whose cause Lubna advocated vociferously.
Lubna says that advertised government schemes are of no help to ward residents. For example, a Rs 1 lakh grant to female girls at the age of 18 seems directed at allowing the payment of their dowry rather than positively effecting social change by helping young women achieve their educational and financial goals. A recent flood-relief financial hand-out from the government was hijacked and corrupted to buy residents’ votes with a fraction of the money actually given.
Dr Lubna’s priority is to empower the citizens of these localities. As she points out, with the ULB's failure to implement grounds-up decision making, budgetary allocations are done in an opaque manner, encouraging nepotism and allowing contractors to enrich themselves. As a result, residents lack even basic facilities, from access to clean water and reliable healthcare to public hygiene including a working drainage system. Lubna is determined to put the voices of the marginalised at the center of her plan for the future of the community.
Her commitment to bringing real change and ensuring complete transparency in her work makes her a unique and highly promising candidate. Her resolve to make a difference comes not just from the fact that she is herself a resident of the ward but also because she already has plenty of dirt under her fingernails. 
She brings a kind of hands-on knowledge of the issues of the ward that other candidates simply do not have. She also brings an evidence-based, transformative plan -- which draws on real social, economic and demographic data rather than merely being a Public Relations exercise.
Hyderabadis deserve a governance and development that is corruption free, pollution free, fully-transparent, all time responsive and not avoid people's questions.
---
*Sandeep Pandey is vice president of Socialist Party (India), Venkatesh Narayanan is software technology management professional, Kushagra Kumar is a student

Comments

TRENDING

'Halt Covid-19 vaccination drive': Indian doctors join campaign across 36 nations

By Rosamma Thomas*  A group of Spanish doctors first got together to call for a halt to the Covid-19 vaccinations, and doctors from other countries too later joined them – there are now over 12,000 doctors from India, Portugal, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, Israel and a host of other nations who have issued a call to halt vaccinations. On September 10, a group of Indian doctors came together to address the press over a webinar to explain why they thought the vaccination drive should end forthwith. Dr Amitav Banerjee, who after a career as an epidemiologist in the Indian Army now teaches at a private medical college in Pune, said there was no longer a medical emergency. Children are at low risk of infection, and there is good reason to halt vaccination and conduct proper research, given the high number of adverse events. There is a sudden and poorly explained spike in the number of young and healthy people dying. While it may be impossible to attribute deaths entirely to the vaccinatio

Did Mother Teresa trivialise poverty? 'You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you'

By Harsh Thakor*  The world commemorated the 25th death anniversary of Mother Teresa on September 5. Whatever her flaws, she rendered service to humanity in regions almost untranscended, resembling the relentless spirit of the waves of an ocean. Irrespective of community or religion, she offered her service. Even those not drawn by sainthood revere the role of Mother Teresa. For 68 years, she had worked selflessly and tirelessly in India and elsewhere in the world, taught the destitute, healed the sick, fed and clothed the poor, cared for abandoned children, housed lepers and those afflicted with HIV/AIDS and offered dignity in death to desolate persons abandoned by family and society. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje in 1910 to an Albanian family as AnjezĂ« Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She became wedded to religious vows at an early age and moved to India to join the missionary work of the Catholic Church. Heartshaken by the misery faced by the Indian masses, in 1950 she set up her own

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".